In my recent series on money management, I’ve shared how my husband and I handled finances through our almost 33 years of marriage. We went from being a childless working couple for seven years to a family which included three children and two dogs.
We lived in a small inexpensive apartment in the inner city for five years and took out a mortgage on a 5-year-old house only after we were able to save the amount needed for a down payment. It was two more years before we would have our first child.
Yes, we were middle class. We lived in a middle class house in a middle class subdivision. We lived below our means. We used a few credit cards for our convenience and paid off the balances every month. We drove cars we had purchased used and for which we had saved until we could buy them out right with cash.
Our children grew up with everything they needed, but I shopped for clothes on sale and in thrift stores. Edgar repaired almost everything that needed to be repaired. That included five vehicles when all the children were driving. He scoured pawn shops for used musical instruments when all participated in their school bands and took private music lessons.
We liked things just as most all people do, but we never let the acquisition of things be the guiding star for our lives.
Even though our lives were very busy, we thought about our future and were participating in our jobs’ pension funds and were contributing toward Social Security. Then cancer took over Edgar’s body and took his life when he was only 52. However, Edgar’s company’s life insurance plan for its salaried employees left me with the means with which I could invest and continue a comfortable life.
There is one thing that I have not mentioned in these thoughts on money management. And it is giving to the local church of which we were members. As a family we spent a lot of time involved in church activities. Our house of worship not only fed our spiritual needs but it along with the schools our children attended were our social network. We gave out of what we perceived as an abundance: sometimes with two good jobs and sometimes with just my husband’s alone while I was active in school and church as a stay-at-home mom.
Those days seem a long time ago. Yet I believe the frugality we practiced served us well. I still have those same values. I think what many people value may change after we as a nation and as a world pass through this time of Covid-19 pandemic. But even when we come to prosperous times again, I hope we all can not just get more and more without considering how we need to give back out of what we have been given.
Many of us get caught up in the desire to acquire more and then feel the need to buy bigger houses to have room for our greater possessions. It comes to the point where we no longer possess our possessions, but our possessions possess us! We may not be hoarders in the sense that there is barely space to walk from one room to another; however, we may find our closets and storage areas spilling out and our garages so full we can not park our cars there.
Jesus in the New Testament speaks many times in parables, which are simply lessons for His disciples then and now. One of these parables (called The Parable of the Rich Fool) tells about a rich man who thought the answer for his greatly abundant harvest was to tear down his old barns and build bigger barns in order to have enough room to store all of his grain and goods. It sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it?
The problem is that the man intended to keep it all to himself. In this narrative recorded in Luke 12:15-21, Jesus warns of greed and in verse 15 says, “Life (meaning a good life) does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (New International Version).
The Bible relates the rich man’s thoughts this way, “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry’” (Luke 12:19 NIV).
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20 NIV).
Essay on Greed
By Connie Carlisle Polley, 2020